Clos Ouvert Loncomilla: Chilean for savory carmenere

In a recent column on, Mike Steinberger threw most Chilean carmenere under the oak bus. Many of the wines in his tasting, “lacked personality and depth, and some were jammy, hideously oaky confections that were indistinguishable from other, similarly afflicted New World wines.” I’d also add that some of the ones that I’ve had carry an unwanted sweetness, probably from the oak and alcohol.

Behold a savory and delicious carmenere: the Clos Ouvert Loconmilla 2008. In his article, Mike encouraged Chilean producers to pick up a bottle of it in his article, and, even though I’m not a producer, I did so, buying a bottle at Grapes the Wine Company in White Plains, NY (about $26). The wine is made by a pair of Frenchman, using organically cultivated old vines and with a gentle hand in the cellar, notably using old oak barrels over new. In the glass, the impressive aromas enticingly intertwine some dark fruit notes with a whiff of dried herbs and a lot of intrigue. Although the wine lists 14.5% alcohol on the label, it carries the alcohol well thanks to good balance and acidity that enlivens the palate. On day two of being open, this wine had just as much intrigue as on day one, always the mark of an excellent young wine.

A final note for those of you who are into global wine logistics: the wine appears to have been bottled in France since it has a French tax stamp on the top of the bottle. No response was forthcoming to an email to the producers seeking clarification on this minor issue.

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8 Responses to “Clos Ouvert Loncomilla: Chilean for savory carmenere”

  1. I am currently in Brazil where one has (alas, for outrageous prices that beat the ones in the U.S.) more access to wines from neighboring countries, such as Argentina, Chile and not to forget Uruguay. The latter country is often neglected but actually my favorite since it produces tremendous wine in “old world” style and with some in Europe long lost or at least neglected varietals.

    When it comes to Chilean carménère I can only say the following: most of the Argentine and Chilean wine found in the U.S. is for U.S. taste-buts and intentionally put the stress on alcohol (often 14 proof and more!?!), oak, and fruity-fruit. Nonetheless, there I have found more than one small producer on my trips or when shopping that seem to produce wine for locals and often inexpensive. Those have different characteristics, they are not exaggerated and sometimes even iconoclastic in a sense that you can’t classify them that easily.

    Salud to Chilean and other Southern wines!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr Vino and Weston , Pamela Zahler. Pamela Zahler said: Clos Ouvert Loncomilla: Chilean for savory carmenere […]

  3. Bruno,

    That is the beauty of travel. To experience wines that are available in different marketplaces. What ends up being imported to the US is limited. Some of the most interesting wines never make it here!

  4. Thanks for the tips on Chilian wine. I will try to get one for myself.

  5. I’m from Argentina and have had the oportunity to taste chilian wines, belive me.. They are GREAT! Here in Argentina we have Mendoza’s wines, they are the best in the region. Salud to everyone! 🙂

    And congratulations for such an excellent blog!

    Fachadas de Casas

  6. Unfortunately some of these new world producers haven’t gotten the knack for creating a balanced expression of the regional varietals. I will have to give this one a try. For an organic, velvety, and earthy representation, try Palin Carmenere from Geo Wines. Alvaro Espinoza, known for naming the Carmenere grape in Chile, also played a hand in creating this wine.

  7. unfortunately im from phil

    dont have a nice wine here we have to import from other country

  8. I just finished another bottle of the Loconmilla (drank over three nights) and I agree with everything you said…this stuff is not the typically insipid, oaky and homogenized carménère plonk you find in the bargain bins. I got a case from Grapes on a Lyle recommendation and it once again proved to me that if Lyle raves about something, I should just trust him and buy it! He hasn’t let me down in years! This isn’t the type of wine that will please everybody, and isn’t even the kinda thing I reach for often, but it is truly refreshing and keeps you guessing, especially if you watch how it changes over a three-night stand!


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